On an August hike to Wind Rock in the Jefferson National Forest, I found an odd shrub with very large, maple-shaped leaves and bold, reddish-purple flowers. The stems of this plant were reddish-brown and covered with fine hairs. Although the plant lacked real thorns, the sticky hairs on the stem definitely called to mind a rose or a bramble.
When I could get closer, I snapped a few photos of the flowers and leaves. Each 5-petalled flower was about two inches across and had a center of yellow stamens. The densely-arranged, 5-lobed leaves were strongly serrated.
On closer inspection I noticed that the flowers had one more interesting feature. When the flower petals fell away, ornate sepals were exposed: each sepal narrowed down to an elongated tip that looked like a delicate tendril. The sepals were almost as pretty as the flowers!
In my experience, the best way to ensure that I will find a new plant is to make sure that I go out hiking without a field guide. Whenever I do that, I am sure to find something that requires a field guide to identify! And so it was again today… I had to wait until I got home before I could identify this unique shrub.
This is Purple-flowering Raspberry, a member of the Rose family. A wild native, I think it is pretty enough to grow in a home garden!